Weeknote #4 Customer Service Programme

This period’s regular weeknote provides a Product Owner view of the Customer Service Programme. The Product Owner is tasked with defining Stories, prioritising the Product Backlog and managing the competing priorities and mix of people required to bring the programme to fruition. Our Technical Product Owner, Sheraz Yaqub is one of the programme’s ‘super heroes’ as he responds to queries and provides the clarity needed; and this is his update:

Good things

The programme discovery sprints are full force at present, there has been a lot of activity across all three teams over the last few weeks. We have continued with our morning stand ups across all three teams which have been followed up by a series of planning and retros ensuring that we continue with agile ceremonies, time to look and review progress, identify challenges as a very strong and engaged team and working together collaboratively to unpick blockers and move activities to a done status. This week we have also seen the launch of the Customer Service Strategy and first iteration of the Customer Charter externally to our citizens and internally reaching out to all our staff, with a call to action for colleagues to do their part and get involved.

The programme has established three delivery teams:

Engagers: The team have been focused on the launch of the Customer Strategy which will take shape over the next 3 weeks. A great amount of work has gone into this and detailed planning and stakeholder mapping has been completed which will have daily updates being sent out over several channels.

We have been working on delivering the Customer Strategy and the Customer Charter online, ensuring that the strategy is meaningful, easy to read and clear in setting out the vision. The Beta version was tested with citizens to ensure the user journey and the content met user expectations, leading to refinements ahead of the launch internally within Birmingham City Council. The Strategy and Charter will continue to be refined, informed by on-going user research, including testing the readability with primary school children aged 9-11 years.

We have also attended a number of meetings with the New Ways of Working programme ensuring both programmes are aligned in shaping the Customer Centricity Training for the whole council (more on this in a future blog).

Finally, we have been preparing for the first of our resident engagement sessions taking place in the Ladywood ward on the 17th March 2022. The session will provide a forum for service area colleagues to hear first-hand from local residents about their challenges and positive experiences when engaging with Council services. The session will also help to shape and inform the development of a target model engagement approach for future adoption.

The Creators, leading on the Big Disco, are nearing the end of capturing the evidence-base and are now in Sprint 6 of a 7 Sprint Discovery Phase to meet the discovery goal to understand the level of customer service we provide today across multiple channels; and in collaboration with end users, work towards a blueprint model customer experience for how we should be delivering our services.

The user research continues across the 3 pilot service areas: Housing Repairs, Highways and Waste and we have been interviewing and engaging with citizens via Teams and meeting in local coffee shops for the face to face interviews. We spent a day at Montague Street Depot with the Waste team delivering our bin collection service and interviewed managers, crew members and citizens onsite.

Never a dull day, Montague Street depot

This week the team got together for a “Discovery analysis/synthesis” session to provide the product owners with the early insights from the user research conducted with citizens, service areas and the corporate contact centre. We had some interesting themes coming out from citizen feedback around communication, fixing the basics, pain points, reactive/proactive experiences and opportunities for us to consider.

Navigator key highlights, we have continued to work on the Bereavement discovery, doing a great job of preparing, recruiting scheduling and undertaking research with representative users of the service in such a short timescale. The user research activity has covered 2 cemetery site visits – Kings Norton and Sutton New Hall, allowing the team time to talk to staff ranging from Bereavement Officers to Cemetery Operatives as well as getting some key insights into how the funeral services for burials and cremations operate.

We have now completed exploratory interviews with citizens and business customers – funeral directors, in the main, and a stone mason; and a local community support group. From these insights, and also desk research to help uncover what data is available from the service, we have created a service blueprint for the burials and cremation process. The service blueprint has helped to create a visible structure for the customer experience with all the staff actions and support processes that may or may not be visible to the customer.

The team are now in the analysis phase to understand what our users have told us, what the service data uncovers, and what the potential future state service blueprint could like for the Bereavement Service.

Challenges

For the Navigators, we have struggled to engage with citizens for user research interviews, but we also appreciate bereavement is a sensitive subject matter they may not want to relive. However, we have learned from the citizens we were able to speak to, that the language the service uses for bereavement is not what they initially associate with the subject matter, so one to take on board for future user research and user testing in any potential next phases of work.

Nathan Thomas Senior BA, one of the user researchers for the programme

What’s next?

For the Navigators, conclude the discoveries – the team will complete the analysis phase and work on a set of recommendations for the Bereavement service. Our discovery key findings, outputs and recommendations will be presented to our service leads and sponsor on the 28th March 2022.

For more information, contact myself via sheraz.yaqub@birmingham.gov.uk or reach out to Scrum Master nikki.spencer@birmingham.gov.uk or email the team via CustomerServiceProgramme@birmingham.gov.uk

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